Theo’s Pizzeria

Theo’s Pizzeria opened just over a week ago, but I hadn’t the opportunity to visit until yesterday (Sunday) evening. I dropped in at about 6.30pm and it was pretty busy already, and got progressively busier as I was there. This is great for them, but had a few drawbacks.

The space itself is quite lovely; clean, bright, modern. The layout remains similar to the former Johansson’s, with three main spaces: a dining room, a bar/counter, and a small connecting room. The major changes are the new toilets (three very spacious unisex stalls) and the bar/counter, with the big new pizza oven and a small bar selling a couple of local craft beers. The garden has been spruced up, although it has no outside seating yet.

I had a few niggles about the service. First, we were shown to a seat and told to order at the bar, but when we went to the bar to order we were told it was table service—so we went back to the table to order. We ordered a starter of oven-cooked onion and mortadella, but were brought onion and burrata (it was replaced quickly). At the end we asked for the bill to be brought over, but had to go to the bar to pay as no-one remembered (the guy serving at the counter seemed quite overwhelmed). This is all mitigated by the awareness that the place hasn’t been open long, and they’re all things that can easily be ironed out.

The big question, of course, is: how good is the food? We ordered a Margherita with sausage, and the Camberwell Scotch Bonnet Nduja. Both were very, very good. The dough is excellent, and cooked very well, puffed up and slightly blackened by the wood-fired oven. The toppings were plentiful and tasty; lots of tomato, lots of mozzarella.

This is, without doubt, the best pizza in Camberwell—and you can extend that out to Peckham, Walworth, and the surrounding areas. It’s major competition would probably be Franco Manca in Brixton, and for me it’s not quite as good (and a little more expensive). The two are very, very close, however, and I really look forward to seeing how Theo’s improves in the future—I know from a quick chat with owner Theo Lewis that in the near future there will be a daytime menu featuring panuozzo, a type of pizza sandwich.

Theo’s is a very welcome addition to the area, and I’ll certainly return—I can already see myself buying a takeaway from there and eating it across the road in Stormbird…

Update: Went back again last night (8th November). All the service issues had been ironed out, and the food was great — roasted onion and burrata starter, anchovy pizza main.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

51 thoughts on “Theo’s Pizzeria”

    1. No, think the ‘soft opening’ was just the first weekend. The issues were all quite small, the only reason I noted them were because there were a few in the very short time we were there. But otherwise it was really good.

  1. I was listening to Arthur Miller’s “View from the Bridge” on Radio 3 when I read this. Gave some spice to the piece.

    I want to say that Johansson’s was a very popular place to hang out, very relaxed, lovely service. Helen Graves says it never really got going, but boy was it missed when it went, especially during the day.

    But a nice pizza restaurant is exactly what the neighbourhood needs. We have hardworking people and mothers who need fed. We have people who wanna get on. We have people come from poverty who value a dollar and what it can buy. We welcome Theo Pizza with open arms, tears maybe, and a song about old Italy and our mind’s eye on the ancient coast of our ancestors.

    And yet, the flat air in my office suddenly washes in with the green scent of the sea, the dust in this air is blown away and the thought comes that in some Caesar’s year, in Calabria perhaps or on the cliff at Syracuse, another lawyer, quite differently dressed, heard the same complaint and sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course…

  2. A lumberjack needs to park his bottom somewhere. And where better than on reclaimed furniture? That sounds very interesting indeed — bang on for our creative troposphere, a solid idea, a lot to live up to, mind — it better be good.

    House café will be incredibly welcomed back. This is the scrag end we like in Camberwell, not the organic slivets that cost more than platinum, pound for pound.

  3. @Carole — thanks for that info on the new cafe at the old House site. I had noticed them stripping out the place on Sunday as I walked past and wondered what was going on. London Reclaimed looks like an excellent local charity that is making a real difference to young people’s lives — plus they make beautiful furniture. Would love one of their dining tables! Their website is here http://londonreclaimed.co.uk/. Look forward to checking out the new cafe when it opens — any idea of when that will be?

  4. @pk36 — We spoke to a couple of people briefly when we passed on Saturday and spotted them working there, but they didn’t give us any idea when it wil be open. Haven’t seen much activity there since. I agree about the furniture!

  5. Theos …sounded great until you mentioned the unisex loos…why do they do that ? nothing worse that having to put down or up the toilet seat.

  6. We already have a fab cafe in Camberwell ..The Pigeon Hole …good coffee , great food …wi — fi and very friendly

  7. My wife booked a table for 8 at Theo’s for last Wednesday evening. When we arrived they had provided us with a table for 6 set for 8. It was not a particularly sizeable table even for 6. It was a joke. The service was poor and some of the pizza combinations did not work at all. It is also expensive for what it is. The ingredients on the menu are not expensive.…his profit margins are significant. I live on Camberwell Grove…I will be walking over to Brixton or down to Dulwich to Franco Manca next time I feel like pizza.

  8. Give Theo’s a break will you!? All the gripes about service are astonishing. He’s only been open a few days!

    For the record when I went there the staff were polite, friendly and efficient and the food was excellent (superior to Franco Manca’s).

  9. If that was directed at me, Andrew, I made it very clear they were small issues in a newly opened place, that could be worked on:

    ”This is all mitigated by the awareness that the place hasn’t been open long, and they’re all things that can easily be ironed out.”

    Everything else I said was very positive.

  10. It is important, Peter, to have strong views these days, not just views. Indeed, I fear the days of nuance are gone.

    The word and concept “mitigated” is too long for today’s attention span. “Gripe” is good, though. “Here’s my gripe.”

    People are ruder and ruder to each other, FFS.

    Still, WTF.

    What’s literally brilliant about Theo’s is the massive window where the diners are on display. “This is the kind of customer we attract,” it says, like an old boot sign outside a cobblers.

    In certain lights and at certain angles, you can even see what kind of underwear the diners are wearing.

    If any.

  11. Hi all,

    I’ve recently moved to Camberwell, been living here for six months.

    The more I’m here the more it grows on me, especially as I find nice places, like Crooked Well, Fowlds Cafe and Communion (the bar/club at Church Street Hotel), for example.

    My girlfriend and I tried Theo’s a couple weeks ago. Yes, the service could have been better I have to admit, but I thought the pizza was good and I want to say positive things about it and give it a chance.

    I think it’s great that new places open up locally, especially if they are independents, so I think we’d be better giving our feedback to Theo’s directly and help support a local restaurant to ensure our town can flourish and to encourage others to open up good places here.

    I’d be gutted to see Theo’s close its doors.

    I see there’s a new restaurant opening up on Camberwell Church Street, I asked the carpenter I saw building the interior last night and he said it’s going to be a grill restaurant.

    Does anyone know more about this?

    Paul.

  12. “People are ruder and ruder to each other, FFS.

    Still, WTF.”

    You swear twice in your post and then you go on to leave the most bizarre and rudest comment of all. But you can’t be accused of subtlety can you?

    Comment boards are for people to debate and express their views.

  13. You’re right, Paul; I really hope Theo’s doesn’t close down just because I said the ‘pizzas were very, very good… the dough is excellent… without doubt, the best pizza in Camberwell’.

  14. Doesn’t everyone have unisex loos at home anyway? Still haven’t tried Theo’s but hoping to do so soon.

    @Andrew, Dagmar is usually just getting sarcastic and taking the mikey.

    Not sure what the new grill restaurant is, unless you mean the new Mike and Olly place that’s opening soon.

    Now can someone please put a a new happy post up? Everyone’s being very grumpy!

  15. I’m happy to be alive. On Friday, a 3 tonne DPD delivery van drove straight into me as I was cycling in the cycle lane on Borough Road towards St George’s Circus. The van, coming from the other direction, turned right onto Rotary Street through a momentary gap in the motor traffic without checking the cycle lane was clear and hit me from the side. I was incredibly lucky to walk away with nothing but scrapes and bruises. Bike is knackered, but I smashed the van’s numberplate and dented the bonnet, so at least it was a sort of score draw.

    Shows the limits of this sort of quick fix bike lane. There’s absolutely nothing I could have done to avoid it, so cyclists are still dependent on drivers having the sense to turn right in two stages, first through the vehicle lane, then pausing to check the bike lane is clear before carrying on. That also means they have to know there is a cycle lane there before they start turning.

    Anyway, injuries could’ve been so much worse, I have a witness, and the driver is accepting responsibility (so far), so plenty of reasons to be happy.

  16. That’s funny, James, so to speak, I was forced off the road by a concrete mixer in Kennington last week, giving the driver a good view of my bloomers as I leaped off.

    The driver was very apologetic after I gave chase, overtook him, took his number, remonstrated and used foul language — whole bodyparts, etc. not kiddie initials.

    I had that glad to be alive feeling, too. You must be exceptionally bendy and stretchy as well as athletic.

    Are you good in bed?

  17. James . Sorry to hear about your accident. Its actually very difficult to see into a cycle lane when turning right particularly if a van is in the way…you have to drive forward to see anything. Cyclists need to be aware more of this particularly if traffic is stopped. You need to watch out at junctions too.

  18. James, that sounds very scary. Lucky you’re ok. Even though often it’s not how you ride, this is still a good reminder to me to be super careful on the bike… I’m getting the train today.

  19. Dagmar, Unfortunately, I’m terrible in bed — a complete insomniac.

    John Lewis, Yes, of course, all road users should watch out at junctions. I don’t want to fill the blog with details of what happened, save to say that the light for cars had just gone green and small gaps were appearing as each vehicle waited for the one in front to move forward before moving off themselves. The driver of a large van, which would have been the next to move forward and which was blocking the view in either direction, waived through the DPD van which was waiting to turn right. From my perspective this was just another temporary gap between vehicles in a dynamic situation. Neither the turning vehicle nor I could see each other until a fraction of a second before impact, but with that lack of visibility, the driver shouldn’t have proceeded through the bike lane. Driving forward, pausing, checking and then driving forward again is the correct way for drivers (or cyclists) turning right to handle this. Good infrastructure should encourage this in a way that green paint on the road really doesn’t.

  20. Tell you what, James I’m quite concerned that some of the Oval/Vauxhall Bridge two-way cycle lines invite cyclists to cut things fine/cut corners. The first inter-cyclist accident awaits there, I’m afraid.

    Still, as an old stager, one of the gnarled and knobbled journeywomen of the peloton, it’s marvellous to see the streams of cyclists on the big blue routes on the Embankment, truly the future, now.

  21. Dagmar

    You are absolutely right about these new cycle lanes. I wonder when we’ll see the first death in London caused by a cycle to cycle collision.

    Maybe it will be quite helpful to illustrate to the more militant end of the cycling lobby that they can’t blame all of the accidents on someone else. As a regular cyclist in central London since I was at school in the 80s and also a driver, I can say that cycling here has never been less enjoyable. Frankly, this is mainly because of the way other cyclists behave (plus a lot more motorbikes and roadworks). I despair at some of the cycling stupidity and arrogance I see now.

    Maybe we’d have got more value for the superhighway millions by giving cyclists some proper training.

    On the other happier theme of this thread. We tried Theos a couple of weeks ago and found it to be excellent and very good value.

  22. “As a regular cyclist in central London since I was at school in the 80s and also a driver, I can say that cycling here has never been less enjoyable”

    I think I can say with confidence that the only cycling you do is in your imagination. The rest of the time you view the streets safely sat behind the wheel of your car.

  23. “If that was directed at me, Andrew, I made it very clear they were small issues in a newly opened place, that could be worked on:”

    Peter, if you don’t like being criticised then don’t write critiques.

  24. Plane tree:
    “You are absolutely right about these new cycle lanes. I wonder when we’ll see the first death in London caused by a cycle to cycle collision.

    Maybe it will be quite helpful to illustrate to the more militant end of the cycling lobby that they can’t blame all of the accidents on someone else”

    This really is an appalling comment in view of the fact that several cyclists are killed every week in the UK by motorists. There was a young woman killed on May 29 this year at Camberwell Green.

  25. I fear it wont just be cycle to cycle collisions but cycle pedestrian collisions. There are so many pinch points on this cycle route its looks as though pedestrians have not even been considered. Those hundreds of pedestrians coming across Vauxhall Bridge to the station now have to squeeze into a tiny path whilst the cycle route has been generously landscaped around a tree. Cycle lanes that go around the back of the bus stop and where pedestrians have to step over the barrier …not so good for the disabled and people with push chairs.

    Plane Tree thank you for giving the most fair and honest post Ive ever seen from a cyclist. I watch the hierarchy at the traffic lights …its scary

  26. Er, erm, God! Everything about cycling is so boring apart from doing it.

    Yes, Plane. I tell you want — extraordinary to see traffic lights with a red cyclist symbol. Now we can see cyclists going through their own red light. Maybe cycle chatter is not so boring as I goldfishly thought a few seconds ago!

    The new library is fab. People have moaned about all the plans but the whole thing is shaping up to be a modern Camberwell Green — far better than the shrine to rubbish that previously surrounded Camberwell High Court.

    And no wonder Theo’s is very popular. You can point at what you want. “I’ll have the thigh.”

    Peter, Plane, Lewis — some toxic social-media “appalling” comments will surely truly bring this magazine up-to-date, with its wandery prose and benign mutual tolerance.

    BLT, I was in the west country near Bristol today at a place called Pill near where the Avon meets the Severn.

    Kurt Jackson painted a picture on the Bristol bank opposite that was shown at the Horniman — a fabulous piece — a film showed how he did it, incorporating local muck, leaves and bird feathers into it.

  27. @ Andrew

    Perhaps it was a slightly over the top comment, but I think most have well understood the point I was trying to make. In my view, any cyclist that gets killed or injured by a left tuning lorry is at least partly responsible — this was sadly the case for the 29 May accident in Camberwell. Of course that does not lessen the tragedy of the injuries or deaths so caused.

    As I said. Better training for cyclists and drivers is the answer not superhighways.

    (And of course I don’t drive everywhere — why would I when it takes twice as long as cycling and costs £40 a day to park near the office, assuming there’s a space?)

    Dagmar I know it’s boring. This is it on the topic

  28. No, Tree, please, I am having a joke, some sort of humour, some humour — not much, a homeopathic dose, if you like — about everything about cycling being boring apart from doing it. This is a facile slogan of mine and I apologise.

    No, I resign.

    You know, when one is a critic of modern toss, one is a few steps away from being a holocaust denier.

    So not a peep more from me.

  29. Hullo, everyone. Lettsom Gardens bonfire party tomorrow night should be a hoot after a day of solid rain which is due to end soon after the bonfire is lit at 5pm.

    This event is very much the start of the Camberwell social season.

  30. Plane Tree:

    ‘Perhaps it was a slightly over the top comment, but I think most have well understood the point I was trying to make. In my view, any cyclist that gets killed or injured by a left tuning lorry is at least partly responsible’

    Most people will have formed the impression from your first comment that you are an idiot or an insensitive git. Your second comment is little better. You haven’t had the experience where a HGV or a car overtakes you and turns left in your path? Or seen such an incident?

    The only bicycle you cycle is in your imagination.

  31. Andrew my friend, you need to lighten up — personal abuse is, happily, not a feature of this blog in general.

    As it happens, I have had the experience you describe (on Southwark Bridge Road). Luckily, no damage done in the minor collision that resulted. The driver could certainly have been more carful, but then (which is my point really) so could I.

    Cycling in London is dangerous right? If you do it, you need to be very careful, take responsibility for your own safety and try to avoid creating danger for other road users.

    Perhaps, Andrew, you are one of those cyclists that can’t hear the HGVs coming up behind you as you’re too busy listening to 1Direction or whatever?

  32. The only bufala mozzarella and Strianese tomatoes I can afford are in my vivid imagination.

    Plane Tree, “carful” is brilliant. The drivers should be carful. I like mistakes — in this shrill, over-opionated world of digital social media and hyper-reality, mistakes are the mark of a human.

    I find myself putting mistakes in, deliberately, wherever I go.

  33. Plane tree Old Chap, I’m interested in the story (pork pie?) you relate:

    “The driver could certainly have been more carful, but then (which is my point really) so could I”

    You seem to have the view that there is an equivalency between a motor car and a bicycle.

    “Cycling in London is dangerous right? If you do it, you need to be very careful, take responsibility for your own safety and try to avoid creating danger for other road users.”

    Analysis is not a strong point of yours is it? Let me explain. Cars weigh over a ton in weight and can go at much higher speeds than a bicycle. They are, potentially a lethal weapon. Bicycles weigh not much more than the people riding them and rarely exceed 15mph. Cars kill frequently (113 cyclists and 446 pedestrians in 2014) bicycles rarely do. I can find no incidence of a cyclist killing a car driver in a collision. I can anticipate your objections: cyclists should have better training and pedestrians shouldn’t cross the road (and when they do, they should wear crash helmets). But do reflect on this, there’s a good chap.

  34. What ails thee, Andrew? You sound such an unhappy soul. Is it Camberwell? It’s not for everyone.

    Unfortunately, the “Standard” reported the death of a “chap” killed in a collision between cyclists yesterday in Fulham.

    The dead man was 69, didn’t wear a helmet and died of serious head injuries.

  35. Camberwell suits me fine. I’ve lived here for over 30 years. Been here so long that I’ve got a Camberwell accent. How about you?

    “Unfortunately, the “Standard” reported the death of a “chap” killed in a collision between cyclists yesterday in Fulham.”

    Your point being?

  36. Dagmar Old Bean:

    “The dead man was 69, didn’t wear a helmet and died of serious head injuries.”

    Could you reference that incident? Or was it an example of your ‘humour’?

  37. Yeah, it was in the “Standard” last night.

    Now answer my question — seriously, what ails thee?

    It’s at this point, normally, on social media, that the person like you who people previously thought was just a bit of a pain, breaks down and lists his ailments.

  38. Perhaps there is a more convenient way for you two to debate this between yourselves, than here in the comments of a review of a pizzeria?

  39. As is our wont on a Sunday morning, Mr Eilean and I took a stroll through Camberwell’s fair streets and today we came upon the British Queen pub in Picton Street. On our return to Eilean Towers, we asked our neighbour, aged 86, whether she had been to the pub in her younger years.
    ‘Yes,’ she said ’ I’ll tell you about the British Queen. Once when I was courting, my fiancée took my parents to the British Queen for a drink. At about 9 o’clock the landlord came over to the table and told them that they had better drink up and leave. The Richardsons were coming in for a drink.’
    For those who are unfamiliar with local history of the 1960s the Richardsons brothers were Camberwell born, and leaders of a gang which rivalled the Krays.

  40. Eilean, as ever, you have brought us an insight carefully held in the upturned palm of your hand, to calm our nerves by setting them jittering just a little with a homeopathically effective dose of reality.

  41. Dagmar Old Bean,

    You think I’m mad because I disgree with your views? Because I don’t find the death of cyclists and pedestrians a cause of mirth?

    What a strange fellow you are.

  42. Eileen: “For those who are unfamiliar with local history of the 1960s the Richardsons brothers were Camberwell born, and leaders of a gang which rivalled the Krays.”

    They tortured people in a house in Addington Square. Worthy of a blue plaque I think

  43. “Perhaps there is a more convenient way for you two to debate this between yourselves, than here in the comments of a review of a pizzeria?”

    Naaagh, me and my mate Dagmar find this space just fine.

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